Heading into tonight's matchup vs the Pistons about the State of the Cavaliers, Stepien Rules presents the following for your consideration.



1.        Life without Dion Waiters' aggressive play can be hard on offense.  Waiters was moved from the starting lineup into a reserve role over a month ago, but Waiters has been a powder keg off the bench, particularly late in games when he has showed an ability and a propensity to score at will, to provide an aggressive burst to the offense.   By no means has Waiters been perfect, but his effort and will to win is undeniable. 


Waiters hasn’t started a game since that Cavalier meltdown in Minnesota, with all of the allegations of unpleasantness which followed the locker room issue supposedly involving Waiters and Tristan Thompson.   Now, with Waiters coming off the bench, the Cavaliers have the highest scoring bench in the Eastern Conference going into tonight’s game, and 4th best in the NBA.   It appears that the rotation that Mike Brown has created has an opening for a player to come off the bench and score.  Before Waiters was moved to the bench CJ Miles filled this role, providing what seemed like an instant 10 points to the offense the minute he came into the game.  With Miles in the starting lineup, these shots went to Waiters, who took advantage, particularly late in games.

2.       Maybe Miles shouldn’t be starting while Waiters sits out with his injured wrist.   Tonight is Waiters 3rd game out in a row, and the Cavaliers have certainly missed his scoring off the bench, but with Miles now in a starting role, there is no one on the roster than can come in and be the pure scorer he and Waiters can be.  Matthew Dellavedova has kind of been drafted into that role, but despite that he’s shown that he can make an open long range shot, it’s not one that he’s really suited to fill.  Perhaps the more prudent plan would be to move Miles back to the 6th man role, and put Dellavedova, Sergey Karasev or Jarrett Jack into the starting lineup, just temporarily.

3.       Kyrie Irving showed an MVP gear.   The semiserious shouts of “M-V-P” at Quicken Loans Arena finally had some legitimacy Friday night against the Milwaukee Bucks, when Irving, who was ill, decided to head to play in the game at 5:15, when he finally left his house for the 7:30 start.  He proceeded to score in the most grueling possible way, by driving to the basket and making free throws when fouled, and he did it a lot of times.   Irving ended up with 39 points and was lifted by late clutch shots by Earl Clark and an amazing tip-in by Tristan Thompson at the end of regulation.  Thompson attributed the success of the tip-in to “the basketball gods”.

As amazing as this divine basketball intervention was Irving, who seemed possessed by some force as he literally sat on the bench after being hit in the chest with about 1:18 left in regulation.  Irving called for and was given a black plastic wastebasket, which he raised to his face.  I don’t know if Irving vomited or not.  He said after the game that he didn’t and what happens between a man and a black plastic trash bin stays between a man and a black plastic trash bin.

4.       Anderson Varejao was involved in a trade rumor last week, involving the Houston Rockets – Boston Celtics trade centering on Rockets disgruntled Omer Asik.   According to Bob Finnan of the New Herald, the Cavs had the opportunity to acquire Celtics small forward Jeff Green if they were willing to part with either their pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, or Anderson Varejao.  Also that the Cavaliers were not willing to part with either the pick or the player to get the deal done.  The situation with Varejao, who has played a total of 81 games over the past 3 seasons has never been his renown energy or personality, but rather his durability.   Varejao is approaching 31 games, which is as far as last season went for him.  His responsibilities are different than they were last year, when he was the starting center, but he plays the same reckless style.  His injuries have always been freak accidents rather than ongoing physical problems or degenerative conditions, but freak accidents seem to be more likely to occur with the uncompromising effort that Varejao has a history of producing.

5.       The difficulty that the Cavaliers guards have had getting Andrew Bynum the ball in a place he can be successful has been a problem that we’ve documented in detail here at Stepien Rules.  Joakim Noah seemed to understand that when he was guarding Bynum in the post in Chicago on Saturday night, forcing Bynum to go way outside the key to recieve passes.  Tonight versus the Pistons the Cavaliers will face another true center in Andrew Drummond, a major challenge for Bynum, but also an opportunity to face a defender who may guard him from behind rather than fronting him and trying to deny him the ball.  Bynum may rise or fall on the strength of his strengths rather than the weakness of the team tonight, an incredible test.

6.       Michael Stanley still rocks it.  Stanley’s Holiday show was Saturday night at the House of Blues.  This Cleveland heartland rock legend still gives 100% and compeltely rocked the place.